I’ve been teaching writing for over ten years. I’ve taught at the University of Arizona, Marymount University in Los Angeles, and Rollins College in Florida. Here are some of the writing classes I’ve designed over the years, with a little bit about each one (and all photos are used with my students’ permission). As you’ll see, all of my writing classes involve some form of journalism, digital media, community work, and sometimes, even meet-and-greets with the occasional famous writer or celebrity (scroll down to see who I’ve schmoozed with in the classroom!).
Writing for Nonprofits
Community nonprofits are some of our best storytellers—the narratives they share shape their impact in the community, engage their stakeholders and volunteers, and make lasting impacts in the communities they serve. But how do these stories get told? Who decides how to tell them? And how do the various public(s) respond to these stories? In this course, we will refine their skills in professional writing and visual design (two critical components to any community writing projects) by working with real community nonprofits in the local area. We will learn to write informational reports and external proposals, revise volunteer recruitment materials, gather and share the powerful stories of the people the organization serves, and propose a strong communication package to help tell your nonprofit’s story.
This is a course about sentences. More specifically, it is a course that will prepare us to talk about sentences, more thoroughly understand sentences, and create more evocative and graceful sentences. As we learn the art of editing, you will revise your own and others’ prose, demonstrating how you’ve come to understand how editors make choices. Throughout this course, you will be challenged to think about the smallest parts of our language—the parts that often go unnoticed—as you learn to see and understand the language you use every day from a more thoughtful, critical perspective.
In this professional writing course, we will begin by exploring what travel writers actually do—how they travel, how they find and research stories, how they document their experiences, and how they write and publish their stories. We will ask ourselves: What about travel writing is so appealing and universal? Why has it persisted for thousands of years? And how do travel writers fit into the modern tourism industry? To complement our exploration, we will read The Best American Travel Writing and consider what makes travel writing such a complicated subject—one imbued with issues of race, gender, colonialism, exoticism, and the ethics of representation. Throughout the semester, we will pitch, develop, research, and write three travel stories and explore our own identities as writers and travelers. At the end of the course, we will refine our own brands and create a digital portfolio to send to future editors and publishers.
In this course, we will explore the delectable world of professional food writing. We will begin our course by considering what food writing is—and what makes it such a unique genre of nonfiction. Then, as we set up our class food blog, we will read some of today’s best food writing from The New Yorker and “do” as much as we will “write:” we will go on a private walking food tour, meet and interview a local chef, and take a cooking class. Using our activities and course readings as inspiration for our writing, we will write reviews, chef profiles, recipes, and feature essays. By the end of this course, you will have a series of published articles that you can use as published clips for future writing assignments.
Writing about Celebrities & Media
This is not a class about the Kardashians. Or, maybe it is…in some ways. In this writing-intensive course, we will begin by analyzing controversial celebrity stories and how writers research and tell those stories. Then, we will turn to our own projects, ending the semester with an investigation into your own celebrity controversy. You will remix your research into a piece of writing for a popular audience, a skill that you will often have to do in your academic and professional lives.
Introduction to Literature
This course is centered around the idea of introductions. Throughout the semester, you will be introduced to literary terms—all of which will help you think about, analyze, and discuss your thoughts and reactions to the short stories and novels we read—and you will learn to write coherent and interesting responses to those texts. By the end of class, you will have a deeper appreciation for how writers craft their stories.
In this course, we will plan, create, and user-test a range of individual and collaborative projects including technical guides, proposals, reports, job materials, and websites. By working with a number of local nonprofit businesses, we will analyze and reflect upon the role of communication practices as we learn to solve technical writing problems and help others communicate what they do. At the end of the semester, you will select your favorite redesigns to present to our community partners for their future use (and they will credit you as the writer, of course!).
From the first day of class, we will think of ourselves as document designers, asking ourselves question like: Why does La Croix’s font look like it came out of 1995? Why do red and green work so well together as Christmas colors? And why are maps of Africa so distorted? To answer these (and other) pressing questions, we will first dive into the intricacies of page design, color, typography, and desktop publishing, practicing our brand-new designer skills on a redesign project in Adobe InDesign. Then, we will turn our attention to visual rhetoric, argument, and ethics, helping us understand the complex decisions writers make when they face the blank page. Along the way, you will keep a creativity journal, designed to get you out of your comfort zone every few weeks.
ESL for Advanced Speakers
This course is designed to help students communicate more effectively and confidently in spoken English. The course addresses improvement in oral skills needed for class discussions and presentations. Students also have opportunities to develop their vocabulary and grammar skills as well as practice pronunciation through group exercises.